This year’s summer reading program at Richmond County libraries has kicked off, and the libraries are welcoming more children than ever.
“This is the first year we’ve opened up summer reading to pre-schoolers, ages 3 to 5,” said Debbie Knight, outreach coordinator at Leath Memorial Library in Rockingham. “We typically just have summer reading for school-age kids.”
Studies show that reading to young children can boost their interest in reading, along with their reading skills. This, in turn, improves classroom performance and grades.
“We had a lot of people in the community asking us to include the younger kids, so we decided to go for it,” said Knight. “This will also include the pre-schoolers in day cares that participate in our program.”
Last year, Richmond County libraries serviced more than 2,500 children through the summer reading program, and circulated more than 10,000 books in a six-week period.
“We’re averaging about 350 kids a week right now between the three libraries,” said Knight. “But that number will increase now that the Fourth of July holiday is behind us.”
About 80 pre-schoolers a week are now attending the program as well.
Donna Halyburton, of Hamlet, takes her granddaughter Haileigh Jenkins to both Hamlet and Rockingham libraries for the events.
“This is the first year she’s done this, and she loves it,” said Halyburton.
This year’s theme is “Dream Big…Read.”
“We’re focusing on things that happen at night,” said Knight. “We’ll be reading books about dreams, nocturnal animals, pajama parties — things like that.”
The pre-schoolers read different books, and do activities geared toward their younger age group.
“Peggy (Wilkes) and I take the younger kids,” said Knight. “We read different books with them, we sing and do crafts too.”
The older kids are entertained by special guest readers and performers.
The grand finale for the Richmond County Library System’s summer reading program will be held at Leath Memorial Library on Aug. 7, and will feature “a walk in the woods.” Nocturnal animals like possums, raccoons and bats will be brought in during a presentation.
The summer reading program is free. The pre-school program is held at Leath Memorial Library only.
SUMMER READING SCHEDULES
Leath Memorial Library
412 E. Franklin Street, Rockingham
Tuesdays 2 p.m. - school age children
Thursdays 10 a.m. - pre-schoolers
Hamlet Public Library
302 W. Main Street, Hamlet
Tuesdays 10 a.m.
Kemp Memorial Library
279 2nd Street, Ellerbe
Mondays 2 p.m.
— Staff Writer Kelli Easterling can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.